Finally, Howe Takes Rightful Place with Hockey’s All-Time Elite

By David Strehle
NHL H
ot Stove Creative Editor

One of the top two-way defenseman in hockey history will finally be taking his rightful place as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Ken Levine / Getty Images

Eligible for induction since 1998, defenseman Mark Howe received the long-awaited phone call from Bill Hay of the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Howe enters the Hall alongside three other worthy recipients in Doug Gilmour, Ed Belfour, and Joe Nieuwendyk.  The four will be inducted in a ceremony on November 14th in Toronto.

Also a member of Hockey’s Royal Family, Mark is the first-born son of Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe and his late-wife, Colleen.

During a 22-year career split between the World Hockey Association and National Hockey League, Howe posted 405 goals and 1,246 points in 1,355 games.  In 929 contests over 16 seasons in the NHL, he scored 197 goals and recorded 742 points.

Howe played ten dominating years with the Philadelphia Flyers, which were sandwiched between his first three seasons with the Hartford Whalers, and his final three with the Detroit Red Wings.  For most of those years during the 1980′s in Philadelphia, Howe and defense-partner Brad McCrimmon were the top pairing in the league.

The duo was not only the club’s shutdown pairing, but with McCrimmon as the stay-at-home defender, Howe was free to use his skating abilities to the fullest.  He scored 15 or more goals in his first six seasons with the team, including a high of 24 in 1985-86.  Howe scored 138 goals and picked up 480 points in 594 games with Philly.

Counted on to put up impressive offensive numbers from the blue line each year was only part of the greatness of the now-56-year-old native of Detroit.  During the course of his NHL career, Howe was a combined +400 in the plus / minus ratings, including a league-leading +85 in the 1985-85 season.

Not many players could control a game the way Howe could, and few who watched him play will forget his classy way, his smooth skating stride, and his blistering wrist shot.

Today’s announcement of Howe’s enshrinement shines the light on one of the more-memorable careers in hockey history:

Early On

It was obvious from the outset that Mark would be something special in the hockey world.  At just 16 years of age, he played for the United States in the 1972 Olympic Games in Japan – and came home with a Silver Medal.

WHA Honors

Howe won the Lou Kaplan Trophy as WHA Rookie-of-the-Year in 1973-74, and was named a First-Team All-Star in 1978-79, and a Second-Team All-Star in 1973-74 and 1976-77.  He won two championships with the Houston Aeros (1974 and 1975).

NHL Honors

A runner-up for the Norris Trophy three times, Howe played in an era when defensemen like the Boston Bruins’ Raymond Bourque and Edmonton Oilers’ Paul Coffey dominated the award.  Howe was selected as a seasons-end First-Team All-Star three times (1982-83, 1985-86, 1986-87).  He made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice with the Flyers, only to lose both times to arguably the greatest team of all-time, the 80′s Oilers.

Additional Reading

When Howe was passed over last year I posted a detailed breakdown of his career for The Hockey Guys.  It was to make a case for Howe’s induction, so check it out when you have the time.  There are some great videos included, especially a rare one from Howe’s days in the WHA with the New England Whalers.


If you have any comments or questions, you can email the author at dstrehle@nhlhotstove.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter – @David_Strehle